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Want to Build a Championship-Winning Business? Think About Hiring Like This

With every hire, ask yourself, “Is this person worth a $500,000 investment?”

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BY Bill Green - 09 May 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Building the right team is critical to the future success of your business.

You may have a wonderful product and excel at delivering client needs, but you're sunk if your team doesn't have the same enthusiasm, drive, or values that you have.

I like to think about hiring like an NBA owner thinks about recruiting talent for the court.

An owner would never draft 12 point guards. Right? Because then their floor is imbalanced. Who is going to play defense? Who is going to cover the big guy in the paint?

Hiring for your company works exactly the same way. And in order to find the right mix of people, you should always be asking yourself these three questions:

1. Does this person's strengths solve for one of my weaknesses?

Through the years, I have found that entrepreneurs and CEOs who got fired, or ran their company in the ground, all share a fatal flaw. They surround themselves with yes-women and yes-men who won't give it to them straight. I have dozens of these stories in my book, All In. It's a destructive tendency to not hire anybody smarter than them--and it keeps you from building a business that can win back-to-back-to-back championships.

Most CEOs aren't even close to being all-around players. In fact, the moment the CEO starts having to spend time playing the game ("doing the work") is the moment they've begun to lose.

The CEO's job is to be the coach. And the most effective leaders are the ones that know what they're good at, what they're not good at, and where their company needs insight and leadership from others.

Every time you make a hire, you should be very aware of what strength is being brought to the table and what weakness it is solving for.

If you're not, you're hiring haphazardly.

2. Is this person worth a $500,000 investment?

I never look at a new employee as a short-term solution.

Great hiring takes practice, and the habit starts at the top. The best way I have found to think about hiring is to view each and every potential team member as a long-term investment. I don't value new hires at their starting salary. I expect them to work for me for 10 years (and if you don't expect anyone to work for you for 10 years, that's another issue entirely--and one you should address). As I build my company LendingOne today, this is something I think about on a daily basis.

I look at each new employee like they're a minimum of a $500,000 investment--that's a $50,000 per year salary times ten years. This forces me to question how badly I want this person on my team, and whether or not they're worth that kind of money.

3. Do they really check all the boxes that you need?

There is a big difference between a great potential hire and a great potential hire with relevant expertise.

A lot of hiring managers try to fit people with a general core competency into roles that would be much better served with specific industry knowledge. For example, they might say, "He was in sales at a software company, so I'm sure he can sell furniture."

Wrong. Skill sets do not always correlate 1:1.

The reason why is because every decision within a company comes with a cost. When you hire someone with general instead of specialized experience, it takes longer to get them up to speed--which means resources, hours, and dollars. So even if you find someone who has a great sales personality, is extroverted and clearly hungry for success, that doesn't necessarily mean they will be able to sell your specific product or service.

Which is why I strongly encourage founders to ask themselves, "Does this person have a background relevant to the role I'm looking to fill? Do they really check off all the boxes I that I need?"

Which is precisely why a sports team owner would never hire a former quarterback as their starting point guard. Because even if both roles require similar general skill sets and core competencies, expertise on the football field doesn't tend to carry over to the basketball court very well.

If you want to build a championship-winning business, this is how you need to think about hiring.